Review

Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around. Camille Pagán.

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Published: Lake Union
Date: 11th May 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

It’s been thirteen years since doctors declared Libby Ross-Velasquez a goner. Yet here she is—cancer free. So why doesn’t she feel more alive?

Sure, Libby’s husband, Shiloh, has been distant. One of their daughters has a serious health condition. And her father’s death hovers over Libby like a rain cloud. Still, this eternal optimist knows she’s the winner of the existential lottery.

But when her forced cheer isn’t enough to keep her family from catching her blahs, she decides to fly them all to Vieques. The Puerto Rican island is where she and Shiloh fell in love—and where she decided to fight for her life after her cancer diagnosis. Where better to put their problems into perspective?

Then a tropical storm strikes. Libby pretends everything’s fine, even as she fears she’s doomed her family. What she can’t see is that the worst disaster they’ve faced may be the best thing that ever happened to them. But first, they have to get through it.

Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around was a slow starter for me. However as I read into the story I was soon engrossed in the life of Libby and her family.

I began not liking Libby that much, she was a bit of an avoider. I thought she could do with a read of one of Brené Brown’s books where she talks about not making up stories in your head.

Libby has a loving husband – with a bit of a query there, two twin girls, one of whom has Diabetes 1, a gay twin brother who has had a falling out with his partner, a father’s ashes she can’t commit to burying and she has lost her taste for her job.

It’s a lot, and the way Libby comes to face all this is what makes the story so good. I loved her friendship with the wise woman on Vieques, the dog she lets her heart out to and the way she finds her way back to what is really important.

Along the way we learn what it is like to experience a bad hurricane for an small island and what is like to live with Diabetes 1 for all the family.

So family, friendship, loss, love, facing into the difficulties of life – this story has plenty to offer.

#IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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Today is a holiday here as yesterday was ANZAC Day when Australia and New Zealand remember those who have served in various wars. Because it fell on a Sunday, workers have Monday off. It doesn’t really make any difference to me as being retired every day is a holiday, for which I am very grateful.

One of my sisters travelled to Brisbane and then the Gold Coast yesterday from here in New Zealand as we now have a travel bubble operating where there is no 14 days of quarantine. She was very nervous, but so looking forward to seeing her daughter and two grand children who are fair dinkum Aussies! One she hasn’t met yet as he was born only about three months ago.

What I read last week:

Loved Marie Force’s new book and new series. A Family of Strangers was a reread, this time via audio and loved that too.  Confessions of a Quilting Circle review will be published tomorrow.

What I am reading now:

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I am also reading A Wizard of Earthsea – first book and starting to listen to Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey.

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Up next:

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Last Week’s Posts

Picnic in Someday Valley.  Jodi Thomas

My TBR Sorting: April

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Book Connections

Five New to Me Authors I Enjoyed.

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Five new to me authors I’d certainly want to read more from. I am not that much of an adventurous person, but I do seem to read quite a few new to me authors. Some of course are just once and that is enough, but here are five I would happily read again. In fact I was straight out ready to buy the latest Julie Buxbaum book. It’s now sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read.

Book cover This was a fascinating look at the world mostly around the Cuban crisis and the time of President Kennedy. These were in the background as a young Cuban woman whose family had to flee Cuba in the revolution becomes involved in espionage and one handsome American senator. The book is well written, the story was mostly believable and I liked the main characters. I’d certainly read this author again.

book cover This one involves twin sisters, one on the beauty queen stage – the other a down to earth school librarian. When the beauty queen comes down with a bad allergy she twists the arm of her twin sister to take her place in the initial events of the competition. While the first sister is at first resistant she gets in the spirit and is a very refreshing entrant. This book was light and funny and I enjoyed the quick read. I’d be happy to read Teri Wilson again sometime.

book coverIn Tell Me Three Things Jessie must make a new beginning as a sixteen year old when her Dad uproots her to leave Chicago and live in California with a step mom and step brother. She has to settle into a new home, a new school and new friends. If she can make them. Add to that she grieves the loss of her mother who died about two years previously.  I loved this book, the characters, the wisdom and insight and the struggle. I really look forward to reading more by Julie Buxbaum.

book cover I’m Fine and Neither Are You explores grief, a working mother, two young children and a house husband who may not quite be pulling his weight. Penelope and Sanjay seem to be coasting towards boredom and dissatisfaction with their marriage. Could adding some honesty into the mix help or hinder? While there are serious issues explored in this book I read it quickly with enjoyment. I would certainly read this author again.

book coverWhat a beautiful story, as a teacher I appreciate the portrayal of a talented and caring compassionate teacher in Maggie. My heart went out to Katya and Sasha who were victims of the Chernobyl disaster. Their son Yuri has a heart defect as a result of all the radiation. Such a moving, sad and yet hopeful story. I loved the relationship between Maggie, Yuri and Finn. So many good friendships in the book. The only thing that sort of amused me was I know the writing of the students would not have been so highly edited in their notebooks. I certainly would recommend this book.